Yesterday was St Andrew’s Day, St Andrew is being the patron saint of Scotland. It is celebrated on the 30th November each year and has been made a Bank Holiday by the Scottish Government, since 2006. Unfortunately banks, businesses and schools have not been forced to shut for the day – which means that many people don’t get to celebrate the day because they are at work.
However, the Scots do celebrate in the evening, with many eating traditional Scottish food, such as haggis, neaps and tatties, Scotch Broth, stovies, or if you live in Glasgow, a deep fried Mars Bar supper!!
Later in the evening, many will go to various events, such as Ceilidh’s (Scottish country dancing), story telling events or bagpipe events.
The Story of St Andrew
St Andrew, the alleged brother of Simon Peter, was a fisherman, born in Bethsaida, on the Sea of Galilee, and became one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. When Jesus was crucified, Andrew allegedly travelled to Scythia and the Black Sea region, as far north as Kiev, to preach the word about Jesus. Therefore, he is not only the Patron Saint of Scotland, but also of Ukraine, Romania and Russia.
He is said to have been martyred by crucifixion, the earliest historical references suggest this was by an upright Latin cross. But later references, which became established in the Middle Ages, suggest that he requested to be crucified on a Crux decussata, or saltire, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus.
Relics of St Andrew were taken to various corners of the world. According to legend, Regulus, or St Rule, had a dream telling him to take Relics (a upper arm bone, a kneecap and three fingers) of St Andrew, by boat, to “the ends of the earth”, and he was shipwrecked off the coast of Fife, at St Andrews, which became a shrine.
However, it seems more likely that the relics were brought to Britain in 597 AD by an Augustine Mission. These were then taken to Fife by Bishop Acca of Hexham, after he was driven away from Hexham in 732 AD.
The Scottish National Flag, the Saltire, is also known as St Andrew’s Flag. The first use of the Scottish Saltire as the national flag, appears during the reign of William I of Scotland in 1180.
Legend has it that Scotland’s association with the saltire, originated in a 9th century battle, where Oengus II led a combined force of Picts and Scots to victory, over a much larger force of Angles, led by Aethelstan. Supposedly, the white clouds formed a large white cross on the blue sky just prior to the battle, and this roused the Scots to a heroic victory.